We find ourselves in most unusual times in the political world. We have a government which the electors did not vote in. We have an opposition with grotesquely more seats than its vote at the election justifies. The Euro is in danger of collapse and there is talk of the breakup of the EU. Our voting system is to be the subject of a referendum. There are early signs of grave discontent in the Conservative grass roots. Amid all this it is impossible to forecast what fortune may bring to UKIP and the justification for its existence – the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.
However it is possible to envisage some real possibilities. The first is the possible breakup of the Eurozone which may bring with it the fate of the entire EU project. This is not in my view likely to occur. I believe that the Germans will do all that they can to preserve the Euro since they perceive that its collapse would be a disaster for the EU. I think it is at least possible that one or two of the countries now so critically affected by the financial crisis will default on their sovereign debts. The chaos that is affecting the financial markets in the southern European members of the EU is bound to breed greater discontent and suspicion here at home as to our continuing to be trapped as a major financial contributor to the EU at this time of great financial constraint.
Then there is the possibility that the Con-Lib coalition will come to grief on the issue of our voting system. The Lib Dems have not done at all well out of the deal with the Conservatives on this aspect. Almost the very existence of the Lib Dems has depended on their championing of the cause a truly proportionate voting system with the Single Transferable Vote. This is not what they have been promised – all this it on the table is a form of alternative vote that may produce even greater lack of proportionality. If the coalition comes under strain the Lib-Dem grass roots may insist on raising the price of continued coalition by demanding this voting system.
In all of this the Conservatives will be aware that in the recent election they failed to gain 21 marginal seats due directly to the UKIP vote. That is a discount that cost them control of the House of Commons. To ensure this does not happen again it may well be that Mr Cameron will be prevailed upon to give a manifesto commitment to hold a referendum on the EU within a limited period. In addition we cannot predict what the result will be if the next election is held on the basis of the alternative vote system. It may well be that UKIP will benefit from the default voting of Conservative voters as well as the many Labour voters who are deeply unhappy with our being locked into the EU.
I therefore look forward to the next few months as much is likely to happen which may affect our fortunes as a party. None of this affects my determination to do all in my power to ensure that this country ceases to be within the grip of the awful predicament it finds itself as a member of the EU project.
May I thank all who gave their time and their support in so many ways to our general election campaign in North Dorset and none more so than to John Baxter who continues to sacrifice time and expense to a degree that commands our gratitude and respect. We have been indeed extremely fortunate to have such a Chairman and I do hope that now the election is over it will be possible for him to devolve some of the work he does on to others who are willing to do what they can to bring about the end for which UKIP was brought into existence.